The department will begin accepting applications this fall with classes beginning a year later. The MA represents an important step toward positioning the elemental role of the Jewish intellectual discipline within a comprehensive approach toward understanding Western society.
The interdisciplinary program stems from the university’s recently created Department of Jewish Thought and is firmly rooted in the Jewish intellectual tradition, according to Sergey Dolgopolski, Gordon and Gretchen Gross Professor of Jewish Studies and former chair of the Department of Jewish Thought.
By combining continental philosophy, critical literary theory and classical and contemporary Jewish texts with individualized attention, Dolgopolski says students will develop unique resources which will encourage the pursuit of new thought paths and problem solving that address a broad range of issues and challenges facing modern society.
“The new MA is a part of a vision of our already nationally and internationally leading department of Jewish Thought,which aims to reclaim the role of the Jewish intellectual tradition in conversation with other elemental traditions shaping the West and at translating the intellectual resources of Jewish tradition to make them available to the broader humanities and also across the divide between humanities and hard sciences,” says Dolgopolski.
“The program is a response to the urgent social need to create experts in various aspects of such a new holistic view of the Western society, a view in which Jewish tradition is no longer marginalized or pigeonholed into an ethnic or cultural particularity or curiosity.”
In her own words, Marilyn shared the philosophy that she and her late husband, Irving, lived their life by, and Marilyn continues to advance:
“We have always been interested in promoting and supporting Jewish awareness and education in a variety of formal and informal ways.”
Marilyn champions the belief that Jewish education encompassing the past, present and future in the hopes of strengthening, understanding and supporting Jewish people is key. Whether through her support of students through a scholarship in the Department of Jewish Thought that bears the Shuman name, or through camping experiences at the Irving M. Shuman Campgrounds in Getzville, the mantra of devotion to Jewish life is evident. “We have to support the institutions that continue the education because it is an expression of our own beliefs and thoughts,” Marilyn added.
The visionary commitment to generosity, combined with a core belief in a high-quality Jewish education, has proven crucial to creating enduring ties between the Department of Jewish Thought, the university and the community. The Irving M. and Marilyn C. Shuman Visiting Assistant Professor in Jewish Studies provide opportunities to advance the academic mission that is part of the Shuman legacy. This fall the department welcomed the first visiting professor, Alexandra Zirkle, to campus.
Living a life dedicated to Jewish awareness and knowledge is a passion for Marilyn. “You have to have a passion for what you do, if someone can find their passion, whatever that passion is, then that person is going to feel really good and somebody is going to benefit from it,” she added. Fortunately, for the students and faculty in the Department of Jewish Thought, that passion has been instrumental to creating a community for students and scholars at UB.
“It means to think outside of the box, the way things have been done before is no longer applicable. You have to think differently. Being bold is taking chances and the opportunity to rethink and be innovative.”
– Marilyn Shuman
His philanthropic contributions strongly supported and helped bring to fruition the University at Buffalo vision of creating a nationally and internationally leading Department of Jewish Thought.
A special thank you to those who donated in honor of the late Mr. Gordon Gross, LLB.